Mark J. McDonnell


McDonnell head shot 31 March 2015 for MSSUE

Mark McDonnell is recognised as a world leader in the emerging discipline of urban ecology. For the last 18 years he has served as the founding Director of the Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology (ARCUE) which is a division of the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. Over the past 30 years while working in New York City and Melbourne, Mark has been successful at obtaining over $12 million of funds to support urban ecology research. Mark also holds honorary positions with The School of BioSciences at the University of Melbourne, the Global Institute for Urban and Regional Sustainability (GIURS) at East China Normal University in Shanghai, China and the School of Design and Environment at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Mark’s research interests range widely, and include the processes driving vegetation and ecosystem change, landscape ecology, the structure and function of urban ecosystems, and the conservation and management of urban biodiversity. In all these areas, he is concerned about bringing high-quality ecological data and the understanding of basic ecological processes to bear on problems of conservation and management of urban ecosystems. He has conducted pioneering research on the study of urban-rural gradients and the comparative ecology of cities and towns around the globe. An outcome of his early research on forests in the New York Metropolitan area was the landmark 1993 Springer-Verlag publication, co-edited with S.T.A. Pickett, entitled ‘Humans as Components of Ecosystems’. Mark has authored or co-authored over 150 scientific papers, reviews, book chapters, reports and articles. In 2009, he co-edited ‘Ecology of Cities and Towns: A Comparative Approach’ published by Cambridge University Press. It provides an assessment of urban ecology research around the world and identifies future challenges and opportunities for applying research outcomes to create resilient and liveable cities in the future.

He is the inaugural Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Urban Ecology which is an Open Access journal published by Oxford University Press.  He also is currently on the Advisory Council of the journal Urban Ecosystems, the Advisory Board of the journal CityGreen published by the National Parks Board, Singapore and on the editorial board of Urban Naturalist. He has previously served on the editorial boards of Landscape and Urban Planning and Ecological Management and Restoration.

He has served as a reviewer for Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery grants, Linkage grants and the Australian Laureate Fellowship program as well as for the US National Science Foundation.  Other professional activities have included serving as treasurer of the International Association for Landscape Ecology (IALE) and on advisory panels for the U.S. National Science Foundation, the U.S. National Academy of Science and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. He is currently a member of the Advisory Board of URBIO (Urban Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Design) which is a worldwide scientific network for education and research with the aim to promote urban biodiversity and design through the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Global Partnership on “Cities and Biodiversity”.

Peer-Reviewed Journals

McDonnell, M. J. and McGregor-Fors, M. (2016). The ecological future of cities. Science 352:936-937

Hahs A. K. and McDonnell, M. J. (2016). Moving beyond biotic homogenization: searching for new insights into vegetation dynamics. Journal of Vegetation Science. 27:439-440.

McDonnell, M.J. and Hahs, A.K. (2015). Adaptation and Adaptedness of Organisms to Urban Environments Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics (2015). 46:261–80.

M. McDonnell (2015) Editorial: Linking and promoting research and practice in the evolving discipline of urban ecology. Journal of Urban Ecology 1: 1-6.

Hahs, A. K. and McDonnell, M. J. (2014). Extinction debt of cities and ways to minimize their realization: a focus on Melbourne. Ecological Management and Restoration 15:102-110.

Aronson, M. F. J., F. A. La Sorte, C. H. Nilon, M. Katti, Mark A. Goddard, C. A. Lepczyk, P. S. Warren, N.S. G. Williams, S. Cilliers, B. Clarkson, C. Dobbs, R. Dolan, M. Hedblom, S. Klotz, J. L. Kooijmans, I. Kühn, I. MacGregor-Fors, M. J. McDonnell, U. Mörtberg, P. Pyšek, S. Siebert, J. Sushinsky, P. Werner and M. Winter (2014).  A global analysis of the impacts of urbanization on bird and plant diversity reveals key anthropogenic drivers. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences  Vol. 281,  no. 1780, 20133330

Norton, B.A., Thomson, L. J., Williams, N.G. and McDonnell, M. J. (2014). The effect of urban ground covers on arthropods: An experiment. Urban Ecosystems. 17:77-99.

Hahs, A. K. and McDonnell, M. J. (2013) Composition of the soil seed bank in remnant patches of grassy woodland along an urbanization gradient in Melbourne, Australia. Plant Ecology 214:1247-1256.

McDonnell, M.J. and Hahs, A.K. (2013). The future of urban biodiversity research: Moving beyond the ‘low-hanging fruit’. Urban Ecosystems 16:397-409.

Hamer A.J. and McDonnell M.J. (2012). The importance of habitat design and aquatic connectivity in amphibian use of urban stormwater retention ponds. Urban Ecosystems 15:451–471.

McDonnell,M. J., A. K. Hahs and S. T. A. Pickett (2012). Exposing an urban ecology straw man: critique of Ramalho & Hobbs  Trends in Ecology and Evolution (TREE). 27:255-256.

Duncan, R.P., Clemants, S.E., Corlett, R.T., Hahs, A.K., McCarthy, M.A., McDonnell, M.J., Schwartz, M.W. Thompson, K. Vesk, P.A. and Williams, N.S.G. (2011) Plant traits and extinction in urban areas: a meta-analysis of new world cities. Global Ecology and Biogeography 20: 509-519.

Hamer, A. J. & McDonnell, M. J. (2010). The response of herpetofauna to urbanization: inferring patterns of persistence from wildlife databases. Austral Ecology, 35:568-580.

Williams, N.S.G., Schwartz, M.W., Vesk, P.A., McCarthy, M.A., Hahs, A.K., Clemants, S.E., Corlett, R.T., Duncan, R.P., Norton, B.A., Thompson, K., McDonnell, M.J. 2009. A conceptual framework for predicting the effects of urban environments on floras. Journal of Ecology 97:4-9.

Hahs, A. K., McDonnell, M. J., McCarthy, M. A., Vesk, P. A., Corlett, R. T., Norton, B. A. et al. (2009). A global synthesis of plant exctinction rates in urban areas. Ecology Letters 12:1165-1173.

Smith, Z. F., James, E. A., McDonnell, M. J. & McLean, C. B. (2009). Planting conditions improve translocation success of the endangered terrestrial orchid Diuris fragrantissima (Orchidaceae). Australian Journal of Botany, 57:200-209.

McDonnell, M. J. & Hahs, A. K. (2008). The use of gradient analysis studies in advancing our understanding of the ecology of urbanising landscapes: current status and future directions. Landscape Ecology, 23:1143-1155.

Hamer, A. J. & McDonnell, M. J. (2008). Amphibian ecology and conservation in the urbanising world: a review. Biological Conservation 141:2432-2449.

Hahs, A. K. & McDonnell, M. J. (2007). Composition of the plant community in remnant patches of grassy woodland along an urban-rural gradient in Melbourne, Australia. Urban Ecosystems 10: 355-377.

Cadenasso, M. L., Pickett, S. T., McDonnell, M. J. & Pouyat, R. V (2007). Forest vegetation along an urban-rural gradient in the New York City Metropolitan Area: Patterns and relationships to ecosystem processes. In: Natural history of New York City’s parks and Great Gull Island. New York : Linnaean Society of New York.

Holland, K. D., McDonnell, M. J. & Williams, N. S. (2007). Abundance, species richness and feeding preferences of introduced molluscs in native grassland of Victoria, Australia. Austral Ecology, 32:626-634.

McDonnell, M. J. (2007). Restoring and managing biodiversity in an urbanizing world filled with tensions. Environmental Restoration and Management 8:83-84.

Hahs, A. K. & McDonnell, M. J. (2006). Selecting independent measures to quantify Melbourne’s urban-rural gradient. Landscape and Urban Planning, 78:435-438.

Williams, N. S., Morgan, J. W., McCarthy, M. A. & McDonnell, M. J. (2006). Local extinction of grassland plants: the landscape matrix is more important than patch attributes. Ecology, 87, 3000-3006.

Williams, N. S., McDonnell, M. J., Phelan, G. K., Keim, L. & van der Ree, R. (2006). Range expansion due to urbanization: increased food resources attract grey-headed flying-foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus) to Melbourne. Austral Ecology:31:190-198.

van der Ree, R., McDonnell, M. J., Temby, I. D., Nelson, J. & Whittingham, E. (2006). The establishment and dynamics of a recently established camp of flying-foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus) outside their geographic range. Journal of Zoology 268:177-185.

Williams, N. S., Morgan, J. W., McDonnell, M. J. & McCarthy, M. A. (2005). Plant traits and local extinctions in natural grasslands along an urban-rural gradient. Journal of Ecology 93:1203-1213.

Williams, N. S., McDonnell, M. J. & Seager, E. J. (2005). Factors influencing the loss of indigenous grasslands in an urbanising landscape: a case study from Melbourne, Australia. Landscape and Urban Planning, 71:35-49.

McCarthy, M. A., Parris, K. M., van der Ree, R., McDonnell, M. J., Burgman, M. A., Williams, N. S. et al. (2004). The habitat hectares approach to vegetation assessment: an evaluation and suggestions for improvement. Ecological Management and Restoration, 5:24-27.

Hynes, L. N., McDonnell, M. J. & Williams, N. S. (2004). Measuring the success of urban riparian revegetation projects using remnant vegetation as a reference community. Ecological Management and Restoration 5:205-209.

McDonnell, M. J. (2004). The management and restoration of urban and suburban natural areas. Australasian Plant Conservation, 13:4-5.

McDonnell, M. J. (2002). An introduction to the management and restoration of urban and suburban natural areas. Sustain: A Journal of Environmental and Sustainability Issues 8:5-10 (Guest Editor).

Leary, E. J. & McDonnell, M. J. (2001). The patterns of public open space in Metropolitan Melbourne. Australian Parks and Leisure 4: 34-36.

Williams, N. S., Leary, E. J., Parris, K. M. & McDonnell, M. J. (2001). The potential impact of freeways on native grassland. The Victorian Naturalist 118:4-15.

Kostel-Hughes, F., Young, T. P. & McDonnell, M. J. (1998). The soil seed bank and its relationship to the aboveground vegetation in deciduous forests in New York City. Urban Ecosystems 2: 17-34.

McDonnell, M. J., S.T.A. Pickett, R. V. Pouyat, R. W. Parmelee, M. M. Carreiro, P. M. Groffman, P. Bohlen, W. C. Zipperer, and K. Medley (1997). Ecology of an urban-to-rural gradient. Urban Ecosystems 1: 21-36.

McDonnell, M. J. and S. T. A. Pickett (1990).  Ecosystem structure and function along gradients of urbanization: An unexploited opportunity for ecology.  Ecology 71:1231-1237.

Non peer-reviewed

Dave Kendal and Mark J. McDonnell (2014) ‘Adapting Urban Forests to Climate Change – Potential Consequences for Management, Urban Ecosystems, and the Urban Public’, Citygreen #8 A Centre for Urban Greenery publication, 131-136.


McDonnell, M. J., A.K. Hahs and J. Breuste  (2009). Ecology of Cities and Towns: A Comparative Approach.  Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.

McDonnell, M. J. and S. T. A. Pickett (Eds) (1993). Humans as Components of Ecosystems: Subtle Human Effects and the Ecology of Populated Areas.  Springer-Verlag. New York. 363 pp.

Book Chapters

McDonnell, M. J. (2014). Foreword.  In Richard T. T. Forman, Urban Ecology: Science of Cities. Cambridge University Press. ix-xi.

Ives, C. D, Beilin, R., Gordon, A. , Kendal, D., Hahs, A. K., and McDonnell, M. J. (2013). Local Assessment of Melbourne: The Biodiversity and Social-Ecological Dynamics of Melbourne, Australia. In T. Elmqvist et al. (eds.), Urbanization, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: Challenges and Opportunities: A Global Assessment. Springer.

McDonnell, M. J. (2011). The History of Urban Ecology.  In: Niemelä, J., J. H. Breuste, G.Guntenspergen, N. E. McIntyre, T. Elmqvist, and P. James  (eds) Urban Ecology:Patterns, Processes, and Applications. pp 5-13. Oxford University Press.

Hahs, A. K. and McDonnell, M. J. and Breuste, J. H. (2009). Comparative ecology of cities and towns: synthesis of opportunities and limitations. In: McDonnell, M. J., Hahs, A. K. and Breuste, J (eds).  Ecology of Cities and Towns: A Comparative Approach.  Chapter 35. Cambridge University Press. Oxford.

McDonnell, M. J. and Hahs, A. K. (2009). Comparative ecology of cities and towns: past, present and future. In: McDonnell, M. J., Hahs, A. K. and Breuste, J. (eds).  Ecology of Cities and Towns: A Comparative Approach.  Chapter 5. Cambridge University Press. Oxford.

McDonnell, M.J.,  Breuste, J. H. and Hahs, A .K. (2009).  Introduction: scope of the book and the need for developing a comparative approach to the ecological study of cities and towns.  In: McDonnell, M. J., Hahs, A. K. and Breuste, J (eds).  Ecology of Cities and Towns: A Comparative Approach.  Chapter 1. Cambridge University Press. Oxford.

Pickett, S. T. A., Cadenasso, M. L., McDonnell, M. J. and Burch, W. R., Jr.  (2009).  Frameworks for urban ecosystem studies: gradients, patch dynamics and the human ecosystem in the New York metropolitan area and Baltimore, USA. In: McDonnell, M. J., Hahs, A. K. and Breuste, J (eds).  Ecology of Cities and Towns: A Comparative Approach.  Chapter 3. Cambridge University Press. Oxford.

McDonnell, M. J. and Holland, K. D. (2008). Biodiversity.  In: Newton, P.W. (ed.) Transitions: Pathways Towards Sustainable Urban Development in Australia.  CSIRO Press. Pp 253-266.

McDonnell, M. J. (2005). The challenge of preserving biodiversity in urban and suburban environments — the Melbourne example. In: Dawson, M. I. ed. Greening the City: Bringing Biodiversity Back into the Urban Environment. Proceedings of a conference held by the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture in Christchurch, 21–24 October 2003.

McDonnell, M. J (2002). Foreword. In: Indigenous Plants of the Sandbelt: A Gardening Guide for South-eastern Melbourne. St Kilda, Earthcare.


M. McDonnell and A. Hahs (2014) – blog on the website The Nature of Cities entitled ‘Four Ways to Reduce the Loss of Native Plants and Animals from Our Cities and Towns’.  http://www.thenatureofcities.com/2014/04/14/four-ways-to-reduce-the-loss-of-native-plants-and-animals-from-our-cities-and-towns/

M. McDonnell  (2013) – blog on the website The Nature of Cities entitled ‘Cities as Refugia for Threatened Species’ which tells the good story of the GHFFs in Melbourne.’ Published on the Nature of Cities website (http://www.thenatureofcities.com/2013/10/page/7/).